San Francisco is one of the cities in America that has a real cafe culture. There are lots of cafes on street corners; in addition to the big chains like Starbucks and Peet’s there are many little coffee shops owned by locals.
The concept of a cafe is somewhat different here than in The Netherlands, where I’m originally from, or most place in Europe for that matter. As a European, I grew up with cafes as places that also serve alcohol. When you go there for a cup of coffee you take your time, sit down and have a conversation with the person you came with. It’s a moment of relaxation. You get your coffee in a ceramic cup, order it from a waiter or waitress and don’t get is to go.
When you go into a cafe in San Francisco, chances are you see a lot of people with laptops. Everyone seems to be working. It doesn’t look like fun at all! The thing is that people approach the cafe differently. More like: you have to work anyway, you may as well do it in a pleasurable environment.
You order your coffee at the counter. Hardly anyone orders a straight-forward cup of black coffee anymore, or even a cup with cream and sugar. A lot of people even go beyond a regular cappuccino, and order one with soy milk. And of course, you have to decide which size you want.
Another thing that’s typical about cafe culture here are the baristas, the people that make your cup of Joe. They take coffee seriously… especially lattes and cappuccinos. By the way they pour the milk in the cup, they make little pieces of art.